U.S. Intellectual History Blog

Intellectual History Research Complaint: Digitizing IHN

It’s a shame that the Intellectual History Newsletter, precursor to Modern Intellectual History, has not been digitized.

The Newsletter (hereafter IHN) came into existence shortly after the seminal, 1977 Wingspread Conference on “New Directions in Intellectual History,” as the “Intellectual History Group Newsletter.” Volume I of IHN was published in 1979. The first six volumes were edited by Thomas Bender, a Wingspread participant.

Because IHN has not been digitized, it’s not easily accessible. As a graduate student at Loyola University Chicago, I could only acquire issues via interlibrary loan since my home institution did not have a subscription.

The real problem, however, is the lack of article abstracts and the subsequent inability to search past issues for relevant material. You can scan back IHN issues here. The Boston University site, however, only posts article titles and authors for each issue. This is particularly worthless with regard to symposia—such as this one from the 1996 issue (volume 18) on “intellectual history in the age of cultural studies.” Okay. But check out the author list:

Joyce Appleby, Charles Capper, Mary Kupiec Cayton, Deborah Coon, George Cotkin, Paul Jerome Croce, Carolyn Dean, Richard Wightman Fox, David A. Hollinger, Martin Jay, Donald R. Kelley, Mary Kelley, Bruce Kuklick, Dominick LaCapra, Alan Lawson, Jackson Lears, James Livingston, Henry F. May, Wilfred McClay, Michael Meranze, Robert Orsi, Theodore M. Porter, Ross Posnock, Daniel T. Rodgers, Andrew Ross, Dorothy Ross, Michael S. Roth, Joan Shelley Rubin, Nikhil Pal Singh, John E. Toews, and Richard Wolin.

Wouldn’t you like to be able to search the pieces from those contributors? I mean, you’d want that ability even with a hardcopy of IHN in front of you—and even if you’d already read each piece!

I think the only issue for which abstracts were given was the final volume, 24, published in 2000.

It’s ridiculous that IHN has not been digitized. I wonder if a grant application can be written to get this done? Or, will JSTOR ever recognize the commercial value of this endeavor? I can’t imagine a university in the U.S. that wouldn’t be interested in picking up an IHN database.

Am I missing something? Has IHN already been digitized? Is the effort underway? Am I just a grump? – TL

One Thought on this Post

  1. Tim,
    Usually it is difficult for a defunct publication to garner enough interest to be digitized. The people who might make it happen have already moved on. But I am with you–I would love to be able to easily access the IHN. When I first learned about it in graduate school, I tried in vain to have a look at it, because my university (Rice) did not subscribe. Another way to look at it, though, is that it fulfilled its purpose, culminating in MIH. I’m sure fifty years from now some enterprising historian will use it to write a fantastic intellectual history of the last thirty years. -DS

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